Article – Release of the Northern Australia White Paper

18 June 2015
Brendan Pearson
Minerals Council of Australia

The Minerals Council of Australia welcomes the release of the Government’s Northern Australia White Paper.

The paper outlines the huge economic potential of Northern Australia, including the scale and breadth of mineral resource opportunities.

As the paper notes, the minerals industry is already a massive contributor to economic growth and development in Northern Australia, accounting for around 85 per cent of export value from Northern Australian ports.

Future growth prospects are strong, with Northern Australia accounting for more than 70 per cent of Australia’s known resources of iron ore, lead, zinc and silver and in excess of 60 per cent of Australia’s economically demonstrated black coal reserves.

The White Paper’s focus on prudent economic policies, infrastructure, minimising regulatory costs to business, workforce skills and research support is the right one.

The paper correctly identifies land access, infrastructure and skills as focal points for future development.  The industry is keen to work with governments, native title bodies and local Indigenous groups on measures to support simpler and more secure land arrangements as well as options for managing and investing land related payments.

Among new and prospective infrastructure projects that will support future mining activity in the north are Tanami Road and a new railway between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa.

The minerals industry endorses strongly the Government’s overall thrust to drive down the costs of operating in the north so that it is a more attractive place to invest and work.

In recent times, the biggest threat to businesses and communities in Northern Australia has been the Greens party push to abolish the Fuel Tax Credit Scheme.

This is the scheme that ensures that farmers, the fishing industry, irrigators, foresters, remote communities and the mining industry do not pay road tax on diesel fuel used off-road.

Around 400,000 Australians, mostly in Northern Australia, rely on off-grid electricity which, in the case of diesel-fuelled power, can be up to five times the cost of on-grid power.

In the context of developing Northern Australia, it is important that the Government and Opposition maintain their longstanding and bipartisan support for Fuel Tax Credits.

Courtesy of the Minerals Council of Australia

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